Visits with my Dad can bring in so many different emotions.
Heartbreak – when his anxiety is in overdrive from dementia.
Heartbreak when he has no idea where he is, who I am or what to do next.
He is a lost child waiting for parental guidance.
I had that blest childhood without want or worry. So when I see him I am heartbroken, an emotion I rarely feel.
Dad made me feel safe, and I want him to feel safe, free from anxiety, and I can’t.
The only thing I know to do is to call on our shared parent – Father God.
Resting my hands on my Dad’s shoulders I ask The One who can, to lift Dad’s anxiety.
My Dad will ask me, “What are you doing?”
“Good” is his reply.
When Dad remembers nothing those days, why does he remember that prayer is good?
Some days visiting with Dad is a shit storm – literally.
And if I am not prepared for his anxiety, I am less prepared for these storms – and I feel sad.
Bodily fluids and me have never had a great relationship, especially those that create a storm.
A storm all over his room and a storm of helplessness in me.
I don’t know where to start or, if I even want to.
This is not my storm to fight.
So reluctantly and sadly I find a helper, a helper for me in the storm, and a helper to clean up my Dad.
These storms make me feel sad.
Sad for this strong man and sad for this weak daughter.
Visits with Dad can be enlightening.
Learning he was on the high school debate team or that he enjoyed drag racing down Route 70 with his best friend, Uncle Bud.
And during these visits I feel proud. Proud of a man who lived life to its fullest. Who is more often content, than confused with that beautiful smile, and handsome face.
Visits with Dad can make me feel adventurous as he takes us to foreign lands.
Just this summer, right after his birthday, we were in France together. My sister Marie, Dad and I sat outside, sipping coffee at a French cafe. He was surprised at the smallness of the trees, he remembered them as taller when he visited France during the war.
He was so delighted that we were there visiting with him in France.
When I returned home to recall my visit with Dad, my husband says, “I’m so sorry honey.”
Even though France was the front portico of Dad’s assisted living; he knew us and called us each by name – he remembered. And I felt blessed that day.
Visits with my Dad make me feel confused when he is full of questions, and answers.
Yesterday I took Izzie, my granddaughter to see Pops, her name for my Dad.
At times I am reluctant to bring Izzie, because I feel afraid.
Afraid of a shit storm right before her young and impressionable eyes.
Afraid for her to see heightened anxiety that can go into a mad rant.
Afraid for what she sometimes hears as my lies, as I comfort him, and reassure him that my mother is just shopping.
And afraid that she will see me, not at my best.
Yesterday was a good visit. Good to be sitting with him in New Jersey, sipping coffee, as he shares a donut with Izzie.
This day was not just good, it was great.
“Why”, I asked him?
“Because she is here” – pointing to Izzie.
This day when he had no idea who I was, what day it was, what year it was, was still great.
A day when he asked too many times how old Izzie was, where her brother was and who she was.
Too many questions and always the same answers.
” I don’t have a brother, I have a sister Sofie, and she is two.”
But none of it mattered for this day, was a great day for me too!
It was great day because it was filled with:
Love between a Father and Daughter.
Love between a granddaughter and her Gan-ma.
Because when I ask my Dad, and always reluctantly, how he knows me, he offers just one word.
Yesterday was a great visit with my Dad because I felt love – the greatest emotion of all!